First impressions, lasting imprint

appearanceYOU are a power projection platform (PPP). The military uses this phrase, PPP, to refer to the ability to deploy power as the basis of operational strength. Likewise, you are the platform for your message. How much authority do you project? Are you effectively expressing your intent? Does your appearance support or detract/distract from your communication?

jane holy angels

My collaborator, Jane, in our Holy Angels uniform

Sixteen years of school uniforms, then five and a half years in the Army fashioned a particular sense of style, if you can call it that. Plaids from Catholic school days and OD (olive drab) and later camouflage fatigues have their place, but not necessarily when you are trying to get your point across. We are a visually oriented culture. When you walk into a meeting or encounter someone, you are being evaluated. You have limited time to make a good impression. Most people judge you instantaneously and cling to that initial assessment. You will have a hard time shaking whatever halo you’ve been assigned at first meeting.

Consider how you present to the world. How you come across makes a difference. As my friend, Kris put it, “The gremlin voices say appearance is a shallow issue and we should just get over it.” But you don’t want appearance to be a distraction for you or your audience. Whether you are making a pitch to a new client, trying to get funding for a business venture or making remarks at a meeting, how you look influences whether the audience “gets” your point or notices a run in your tights or a gap in your blouse. Shallow but true. If you are worried about a zipper staying closed or if static is causing your skirt to cling, it’s hard to focus on the message. Be deliberate about appearance so it is a confidence multiplier. It enhances your power and clears head space for your important message.

Presence is awareness of yourself and your situation; being confident, enhancing credibility and displaying a sense of authority. The intangible confidence factor may tilt the balance towards wowing the audience and winning the proposal bid. Confidence helps project competence. Find the sweet spot between your message and appearance in order to project your presence with power. Allow your appearance to match your brilliance. Claim it, sister!

I take this message to heart. The only area tours I ever walked at West Point were for wearing the wrong uniform. How you look; what you wear is a big deal. Just ask my squad leader.

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One thought on “First impressions, lasting imprint

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